Rebecca (Becki) Sinclair has always had a passion for lettering. Now a freelance hand-letterer and illustrator based in Melbourne, she is the founder of the quirky lettering Emporium The Good Type Co. With a love that grew from childhood, amusing herself with reel upon reel of that connected, lined printer paper that you used to get in the 90s and some pencils, she’s pretty much drawn continuously until today.
Her catalogue of type is based on daily life, overheard conversations and those little things that we all do or think but rarely admit to, making her work humorously relatable.
‘Everyone’s had a break up, everyone’s been awkward in a social situation, everyone’s been insanely happy and comparatively exceptionally sad about a something, or stalked people on the internet’.
We spoke to Becki about her creative background, developing her signature style and what she’s got coming up.
Firstly, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in New Zealand but I grew up in England for the majority of my life — I studied art at High School and at A-level, and barely graduated. I’ve always struggled with the art within the education system; I think it’s de-valued in education as a whole.
In retrospect, you just follow the grading system rigorously and then you pass, but in my less mature rebellious youth, I fought against that and would just spend all my time in the art room stapling cardboard to the walls; creating large scale installations with armies of rabbits and paint dripping from these massive imagined cityscapes.
I got a ‘un-gradable’ in my first year and had to reel it back and promise I’d follow the guidelines to continue, and just got told to create pages and pages of basically still life images and I’d pass, which I did.
I moved city and went on to study ‘Contemporary Fine Art’ at The University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, England. I was just creating illustration work, while everyone else was smashing glass and hammering nails into chairs to represent vanity or whatever else, I think that’s when I realised that I was really interested in illustration and the graphic side of design.
I studied Communication design for three years in Dunedin, New Zealand. I’ve been on and off freelancing since I graduated. I moved from New Zealand to Melbourne in February this year, and it’s the best thing I could have ever done.
How did you get into lettering and illustration?
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment that my whole work shifted to just purely lettering; I’ve always put hand lettering into my work, I studied English literature and always kind of fancied myself as a writer as a potential career option, but then I never actually wanted anyone to read my work, as I thought it was embarrassing so that never eventuated.
When did that change?
I was working on a commission for a tattoo design, and it was type based, and it took me hours and hours to get this piece right and it was still in hindsight fucking terrible, so I never sent it. But as I was re-drawing it millions of times I realised I really needed more education in typography; so after that point I just immersed myself in learning different styles of type and lettering; from ephemera like old letters and tickets, to calligraphy and contemporary lettering styles.
I think once you learn the fundamentals of type and the rules you need to follow, and practice for a long, long time then you can start to find your own style within that, and then you can start to break or bend those rules.
Did anyone or anything influence you in particular?
I try not to get too influenced by other people’s work, but it’s unavoidable in this age, I think it can be kind of daunting, especially within the lettering world as there is so many super talented designers out there.
But over the years, I think designers like Jon Contino, who have incredible drive and personality within their work are really inspirational to me, and people who create work that’s really raw and honest like ‘Wasted Rita’ or ‘Timothy Goodman’.
How would you describe your style?
That’s so hard, haha. I think as with everything in life it’s ever evolving, I like I flit between highly detailed stuff to really simple type work – I just attempt to create something interesting concept-wise or sneak some sort of humour into whatever I’m working on and then I’m happy.
We feel like a lot of your work is relatable on a personal level, how do you come up with the slogans / quotes etc?
Thank you! I think within my personal work, it’s all based on conversations with people I know, or interact with on a daily basis, I always carry books and pens around with me and jot down funny things that people come out with or random thoughts. I’m also especially inspired by music, so lyrics come into play a lot.
Everyone’s had a break up, everyone’s been awkward in a social situation, everyone’s been insanely happy and comparatively exceptionally sad about a something, or stalked people on the internet; all those relatable experiences, in reality or, internet reality — now that it’s such a massive part of everyone’s lives — is really interesting to me.
I’ve been slowly trying to get over that fear of people reading my writing, illustrating that lettering makes it a lot easier to put stuff out there. I think people react better when you’re as sincere and honest as possible, then people can then relate to you more on a personal level.
How and when did The Good Type Co. come about?
‘The Good Type Co’ was actually a name that I came up with for a elective project in University; the project didn’t actually have much to do with type at all, but it’s just stuck since then.
The Good Type Collective, I guess stands for more collaborations that I’d like to do, more interesting work, good design and varied types of design rather than purely just typography.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished up creating my collection for ‘The Club of Odd Volumes’ which will be launching in September, which is really exciting I love everything they do.
I’m having a solo show at ‘The Rooftop Art Space’ in September/November, which is based around social interaction so that should be fun! And I’m also working on proposing a collaborative charity group show; where artists contribute a piece and we auction it off, and the proceeds will go to enabling youth based art classes in Melbourne.
I have so many personal projects that I work on constantly, I’m creating a children’s book with my brother, and also a series of typographic practice books that will be available for free as e-books.